Monday, September 27, 2021 

Supposedly, this is the tell-all story of DC's failed New 52 reboot

There's been a whole interview published by Polygon where some of the most PC staffers of the time allegedly tell what went wrong with the New 52 a decade back (and I should warn that ultra-leftist Graeme McMillan wrote it). First, I thought to present what Jim Zub, of all people, is saying about not just DC and this article, but also Marvel: Well first, off, I'm afraid I'll have to firmly disagree on "good overview", considering most of the people interviewed are men like Dan DiDio, who can't be expected to give any honest input. There's only so much damage he caused to their reputation he's unlikely to admit, if at all. Coming from somebody who's been something of an apologist or a sugarcoater himself (I can't seem to remember him ever saying the recent mistreatment of Scarlet Witch for the sake of a publicity stunt was atrocious), that's certainly surprising, suggesting he may be ready to jump ship from the Big Two, based on their terrible management, both artistically and business. I've read an article or two the past where so far, they'll tell you what went wrong in the 70s and 80s, but by the time the 90s is done, they veer away from anything meaty, and keep to an extremely superficial level. If Sean Howe didn't ask Joe Quesada whether he had any regrets over marginalizing Mary Jane Watson, to name but one example, that says quite a bit about what's wrong with history coverage. One more reason why, if Quesada hasn't apologized for wasting 20 years worth of Spider-Man stories on his narrow, slapdash visions, he likely never will.

With that told, let's turn to the interview itself, which begins like this:
On Aug. 31, 2011, the comic book industry was supposed to change forever. The release of Justice League #1 wouldn’t just relaunch the premier superteam of DC Comics with a new origin story, but be the first of 52 new comic book series that would establish a fresh incarnation of the main DC universe. The initiative, launching throughout September 2011, was called “The New 52,” and it marked the company’s first attempt in more than two decades to hit the reset button on its sprawling continuity. Every superhero in the DC universe was in for a major update, with the hope of attracting a new generation of readers who could turn the publisher’s fortunes around.
IIRC, Green Lantern and Batman were exceptions to this reboot, which is surely one of the biggest problems with its whole mismanagement. Another would definitely be the changing of Silver Age Flash Barry Allen's background to a more grisly origin, where his parents were murdered, and that already happened 2 years before the reboot. All just so they could make a famous Silver Age creation's background pretty much the same as any other. And while Wally West may have since been restored as the main Flash star, till this day, it doesn't look like Barry Allen's far less grisly origin was ever restored as canon.
Debuting to impressive sales, the New 52 temporarily made DC Comics the dominant force in the industry. The event redefined the company’s reputation among fans and creators — for good and ill, with as many upset about the wholesale rejection of decades of stories as excited about the new beginning it offered. Outside of comics, meanwhile, Hollywood’s coinciding superhero boom came along just in time for the New 52’s updated origin stories to inform Warner Bros.’ Justice League, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, and Shazam! franchises, enshrining those changes in the minds of millions of moviegoers.
Without sales figures, there's no use in telling us this. Many launches have seemingly begun strong, only to taper off later, because audiences are capable of realizing these aren't really the big deal they're made out by the press to be, and those really driving sales, if they do, are speculators. Not to mention that much of the sales figures actually stress what's sold to a store, rather than a customer. But, it's fully expected Polygon would be so otherwise dishonest and superficial. It's also decidedly galling how they won't take sides in the audience, though the bias in favor of the publishers pretty much says where they're going with this. And it does make clear this whole reboot was all for the sake of giving Hollywood a platform on which to base their adaptations, most of which haven't worked well, seeing how the Justice League movie may never get a sequel.
But the relaunch soon ran into trouble. Within months of its kickoff, sales of the New 52 fell on all but a handful of titles, leading to multiple cancellations and the creation of a number of replacement series that themselves would be brought to quick conclusions due to lack of sales. Behind the scenes, many creators were dealing with confusing and contradictory instructions given to them by editors and executives, or worrying about their job stability as the company tried to regain the momentum the New 52 had in its initial weeks. Of the many prominent participants Polygon contacted for this piece, many declined to speak on the subject, preferring to put a stressful period behind them.

In the end, the industry didn’t change forever as a result of the New 52 — and, in fact, neither did the DC universe. Within years, 2016’s DC Universe Rebirth, 2017’s Doomsday Clock, and 2019’s Dark Knights: Death Metal undid the continuity changes of the reboot, piece by piece. Nonetheless, the New 52 proved to be a seismic event in comics, demonstrating that one of the two largest publishers in the industry was willing to bet everything — even its own history — for the potential of a larger fan base, and what doing so actually meant in practice.
But they never got that "bigger" fanbase, because even after the deed was done in 2011, it was clear they were only virtue-signaling, continuing to lay out early groundswork for SJW pandering, with the Golden Age Green Lantern one of the biggest victims, something that hasn't changed so far, and under the current situation, there's no chance they'll let go of the LGBT angle they forced upon him. I wouldn't be shocked if it's discouraged some cosplayers from wearing party costumes based on the Golden Age design to conventions as a result, and assuming there's any toy merchandise based on Alan, that could've suffered as a result.

Now here's what some of the interviewees say, starting with who else but DiDio himself, and he's predictably evasive:
The origin [of the New 52] comes from a couple of places. First things first: We had a change in management. We had Diane Nelson coming in [as DC’s new president]. And she really wanted to challenge us and really to make an impression and a statement. So we needed to make a statement. That’s part one.

Part two was the market was extraordinarily soft. Our numbers were off by double digits — I want to say 30 to 40 percent, some big number from what it was from the previous year — and trade sales were slowing down, and periodical sales were slowing down. It wasn’t just DC; it was the whole marketplace.

I used to joke with Jim [Lee, at the time DiDio’s partner as co-publisher, and current publisher at DC Comics], which is not a joke. I used to say, “I don’t want us to be co-publishers and watch it run into the ground. That’s not why we took the job.”
I don't buy this. He took all sorts of steps that alienated readers, starting with the Identity Crisis monstrosity and the sexual violence it minimized through cheap sensationalism, extended to killing off and criminalizing characters like Spoiler, Sue Dibny, Jean Loring, Blue Beetle, Firestorm, Leslie Thompkins, and they kept repeatedly launching one company wide crossover after another every year, making it difficult to find a title that wasn't connected in some way or other to a "major event". And of course, the writers they hired became increasingly leftist, while conservatives Chuck Dixon were driven out, along with people whose viewpoints didn't coincide with their extreme liberal bents. One of those liberals was Judd Winick, who gave input to this article, and brought up said crossovers:
The year prior to the New 52, we had a pretty big meeting at the DC offices in New York, where a bunch of us were discussing a whole mess of stuff, but the focus of it was coming up with stories that would stem from the Flashpoint crossover.

In that meeting, it was discussed that maybe it would be interesting/creative/cool if we utilize Flashpoint in the same way the original Crisis was utilized, or a number of crossovers: “Maybe we can use Flashpoint to have some substantial story carry over into the main continuity;” like, “Maybe we come out of Flashpoint and Lois and Clark are no longer married, and Lois Lane does not know he’s Superman,” something like that. And, within that, there was a lot of time bouncing around some ideas. Again, ideas of what would be the one or two or three things that will change coming out of Flashpoint. I think that was the creative spark.
What creativity are we talking about? He for one had none to offer but early social justice ideology, recalling he exploited Green Lantern for promoting LGBT ideology towards the end of the Kyle Rayner run. And if memory serves, Winick left DC shortly after, and hasn't written much for comicdom since. In fairness, maybe he got tired of the directionless path they were taking. Even though he himself had blame to shoulder for where they went. And look at that, he had no issue with dissolving the marriage between Superman and Lois. Who says Marvel was the only one going out of their way to break up a notable marriage? Here's another statement made by DiDio, and this is even more telling of how full he is of himself:
From the moment I started at DC [...] I was always trying to get to that spot where we can sort of restart the wheel and really create this entry point for everybody to jump on, and contemporize our characters.

Marvel had such success with [Miles Morales and the Ultimate line], and I kept on pointing to that. I thought to myself, We needed that
. I tried a couple of times — the All-Star line was supposed to be a shot at that, the Earth One books were supposed to be shot at that. They were good as stand-alone concepts, and we got some great work from that, but it didn’t drive a line. And ultimately, the only way it works is if you drive the cohesiveness of the line. We were doing it piecemeal, but to really make an impression, to really catch the attention of the marketplace, you had to do something dramatic. And ultimately, that’s what turned into the New 52.
He really believes Marvel had so much success with Morales, that he was prompted to continue pushing the diversity narrative he and his staff were early beginners of. In fact, he confirms it further on:
When I looked at the New 52, it wasn’t just about relaunching the books, but also diversifying the product and the characters. And everything was about diversification, before “diversification” became a buzzword.

We really wanted to make sure we were reaching out and trying different things and different types of stories. As much as people talk about Superman or Batman, or any one of the relaunches of the primary characters, I was more excited about the Men of Wars, or I, Vampires, and the other things that were part of that, because ultimately, that’s the part of comics that brings in the casual readers — people picking up books if they’re not superhero fans, but want to read the medium.
Straight from the mouth of somebody who successfully drove many casual readers out of the market through the advent of crossovers, which make it near impossible to find any self-contained storytelling, let alone plausiblity. And while 3rd-tier titles and characters can have potential, it has to be based on merit, and DiDio's very own lacking of the same is exactly why he wasn't qualified for working on any of that. Nor, come to think of it, is Scott Snyder, who also spoke to Polygon:
There were a lot of people operating on good faith. A lot of editors working very hard to get great stories out there. Nobody edits comics who doesn’t love the characters, and love being a part of that world. There’s not a lot of glory in it. It was a strange environment, because there was so much excitement and enthusiasm from all of us, creators and editors; and from the top, from Dan and Jim. Their enthusiasm was infectious. They believed in all of it. And yet, because there wasn’t an underlying story, because there weren’t concretized rules, it kept changing all the time.

That sort of fluidity, that lack of rules, of blueprints, led to issues, because between different groups there were different ideas of what was DC history. So you’d do something and then you’d hear from a different group that one of the characters you mentioned [being] in the past wasn’t in the past anymore, because they had a new origin. Again, everyone was working out of love of story, trying to tell the best tales in their area. It was just difficult without more set rules.
He really believes that, doesn't he? This despite the number of characters, minor or otherwise, who were subject to repellent abuse almost from the moment DiDio was in. The Silver Age Atom, lest I forget, was another one of those. Snyder has no business telling us the editors love the characters, regardless of whether they're assigned or not. But pretty surprising he'd say there's not much glory in it. Because that's what you should really get into the profession for, not simply money. Next is more commentary by DiDio on the time they hired Grant Morrison to write Superman, and assigned Geoff Johns and Jim Lee to the Justice League:
We were trying to have our cake and eat it too, as the old expression goes. You’re trying to have that early point relaunch [and also] you’re trying to not to screw the pooch on your most popular franchises, because in order for Geoff and Jim’s book to work — a significant centerpiece of the line at that moment in time — all the other characters have to be established by that time to get on the team. [Also] we didn’t want to just have everybody’s origin told at the same time, because that gets tedious as well.

We loved Grant’s new ideas and takes on Superman, because there’s something really original and fresh going on there. I love that Superman so much. But the other side of the coin is, you want to have a Superman that plays alongside the Justice League book. The George and the Grant stories never really lined up and, in the end, for the fans that really follow the tight continuity, they had a hard time grasping how these two characters were the same one, or how that timeline worked.
Of course they'd love Morrison's ideas. He's such a leftist in his own way, what else could they see in him but perfect for their viewpoints? At least DiDio's honest in one aspect: they were trying to have and eat their cake simultaneously, just to virtue-signal. Why does he think readers could have difficulty getting into both takes in 2 different titles? It goes without saying Johns' take on the League was just one of their most pretentious entries, and IIRC, he went a cheap route drawing up a love affair between Superman and Wonder Woman, as though superhero comics couldn't get more insular.

They also got input from animator Christy Marx, who'd been hired a decade ago to write a new take on Amethyst that never went anywhere:
I worked with editor Rachel Gluckstern, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with her. She’s a sharp, perceptive, and supportive editor. There were times when she had to come to me with last-minute, pain-in-the-ass requirements from the higher-ups, like having to suddenly insert an issue in Amethyst where she comes back to the DC universe world, even though this is right in the middle of a storyline I had going on in the [alternate dimension of] Gemworld. Or at the end, where I suddenly had to introduce [Justice League foe] Eclipso because they wanted more crossover with the larger DC universe.

Rachel did her best to come up with suggestions and helpful ideas to soften the impact of those requests. It made it tough to create a cohesive storyline, though, with sudden interruptions like that.
At least she's more honest than most of the other interviewees here, that crossovers and editorial interference hurt storytelling, to the point where you don't have a natural flow. They also got input from Robert Vendetti, who said:
Happy with what I’d done on Demon Knights, DC invited me to pitch for the main Green Lantern title, taking over with issue #21 after the departure of Geoff Johns. Beyond saying that there’d be a villains-themed month across the line that September, they wanted a Green Lantern event within the group to connect the titles under all the new creative teams. That was where Relic and the “Lights Out” storyline came from. I think at that point in my career I’d written less than 12 superhero comic books, so it was definitely a trial by fire.
Anybody willing to engage in a storyline emphasizing villains, one of the biggest insults to the intellect in modern event-storytelling, is only leaving a big stain on his record, and if Vendetti did that, it's a mistake.

I also notice, coming from the interviewer, the following nonsensical fluff about the Batgirl title at the time:
Batgirl was a significant critical success for DC, described soon after its launch as “one of the pioneers of a new movement towards mainstream comics for a progressive young female audience” by Comics Alliance, an outlet that just a handful of years earlier had been leading the charge against DC for sexist creative choices.

The combination of critical and commercial success for Batgirl and Gotham Academy, along with the anarchic attitude of Harley Quinn — a title that offered DC its own Deadpool in spirit and sales power — allowed them to be the anchor of the year-long DCYOU brand. While the other series in the line didn’t attempt to reproduce the style of any of those three titles in a direct way, the three books had identified a new audience for DC properties that had been underserved by the New 52 as-was.
That Alliance article accuses the title of transphobia, so I'm pretty confused what's going on here. Besides, was it truly a financial success? I know that since the time it was written artist Cameron Stewart, quite a leftist himself, was claimed by cancel culture over allegations of sexual misconduct, and may have mostly vanished since. Based on his ideological pursuits, it's hard to feel sorry if he's left the scene, having experienced the wrath of an ideology he himself upheld. And no sales figures provided, I see, to back up their questionable statements. What are they trying to prove anyway? That they can pander to ideologues, I guess, just as badly as Marvel has.

Here's one more statement by DiDio:
There are a lot of really valid complaints, but not the ones you think.
If he's implying his past publicity stunts and disrespect for the characters wasn't reprehensible, nor the social justice pandering that came soon after, that's no shock either. Of course, he's clearly not going to admit to moral failure any more than serious artistic failure. That's why, in the end, it's all otherwise a pointless exercise in what went wrong, getting input from people least likely to admit the serious mistakes they made, rather than do some objective research of their own and write up a commentary to determine what errors resulted from all this poor management and judgement over the past 20 years. No wonder Polygon is such a useless entertainment site.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021 

Italians allegedly dislike Chris Pratt's voice casting for a Super Mario Brothers cartoon

Breitbart's reporting that a new animated film based on Nintendo's famous mascot is being criticized by Italians for casting the non-Italian Chris Pratt to voice Mario:
Some Italian-Americans and Nintendo fans were angered to see that actor Chris Pratt was cast to voice Mario in the upcoming animated film, Super Mario Bros. Fans fumed over the fact that Pratt is not of Italian descent.

Illumination and Nintendo have put together a voiceover cast for Super Mario Bros., according to a report by Deadline, which added that the film is also being co-financed between Universal Pictures and Nintendo.
You'd think most Italians would know better than to follow the example of POC doing the same, but reality can say otherwise, proving white characters are not immune to politicized controversies by people of white backgrounds. That said, there are signs and suggestions not all the outrage culture advocates behind this are actually Italian, nor are they being altruistic. As the article states:
“why r y’all having chris pratt (a white man) play mario (an italian poc person),” one Twitter user asked.
This is so incredibly stupid. Italians are white, for heaven's sake! So maybe it's not really a case of Italians supposedly taking offense at all, but just more incredibly brainless, poorly educated cybertrolls on Twitter looking for excuses to brew up a storm in a tea kettle for nothing, over a cartoon they're unlikely to see in theaters. Which is only doing Italians a terrible disservice.

I should hope Universal and Nintendo remain firm on their casting choice for Pratt. Besides, Mario is the brainchild of a very fine video game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, and it would be doing a terrible disfavor to him if they turned his creations into political footballs. That should not happen, just like many other nontroversies of the past decade shouldn't have. I decidedly hope this new cartoon is better than the catastrophous 1993 live action movie starring the late Bob Hoskins, which thankfully didn't undermine the popularity of the franchise a bit, and it continued to thrive on Nintendo systems for many years after. With the right ingredients, a cartoon can prove far more engaging than a live action film.

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Saturday, September 25, 2021 

Before the Batman films did race-swapping, they did hair color swapping too

I'd recently read the news about redheaded girls being replaced in Batman-related multimedia with actresses of different skin color. Certainly, it's sad how the studios both lack faith in white actresses and put sheer contempt for them on display, and simultaneously, don't have the courage to create new characters to fill the roles of the characters of different racial background.

But did you know that in the past 3 decades, long before this whole virtue-signaling mess came about, the Batman films directed by Tim Burton and the late Joel Schumacher did something almost similar with established recurring characters from the comics' cast members? The difference is that back then, while they didn't race-swap the characters, they did color-swap their hair. Let's begin with Vicky Vale, as seen in this illustration:
Vale, who debuted towards the end of the Golden Age in 1948, was one of the earliest redheaded women in comicdom, and she'd made significant appearances in the Batbooks, along with a few others, for many years after, even as there were times when she'd been in limbo from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. But when Burton was casting the role for the first major movie in 1989, he not only hired the very blonde Kim Basinger for the role, they left her hair color in place:
Basinger didn't even dye her hair red for the role. This was a significant departure from fidelity to the source material in a mainstream film, in contrast to the late Margot Kidder's role as Lois Lane in the 4 major Superman movies starring the late Christopher Reeve, which kept DC's first leading lady a brunette. Speaking of which, as most purists know, Selina Kyle, the Catwoman, is usually a brunette back in the comics:
But when Batman Returns was produced in 1992, Burton cast blonde Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of the Feline Fatale:
So it wasn't just redheads at the time being hair color-swapped. It was also brunettes, if it matters.

Oddly enough, when Schumacher made Batman Forever in 1995, they actually created a character who was mostly redhead, Chase Meridian, played by blonde Nicole Kidman, who'd dyed her hair in a reddish shade during the mid-90s:
And nearly 2 decades later, DC assigned Marc Guggenheim to introduce a comics counterpart for the Meridian character in 2013:
It's pretty ironic when established characters are hair-color swapped while a new character gets to be the emphatic redhead. Yet at the time, this was how WB went about setting things up with live action. And there's one more example crucial to cite here: Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl from 1967:
Only so many purists and historians know Babs is redheaded back in comicdom proper. Yet that too was changed when the least successful of the films at the time, Batman & Robin, was produced in 1997, casting Alicia Silverstone in the role:
Again, instead of a redhead in the role, we once again have a blonde, in addition to the economy setup of changing Batgirl into the niece of Alfred Pennyworth. And guess which redheaded character got to retain this color in the film?
That's right, the villainess Poison Ivy, played at the time by Uma Thurman. Interestingly, this was also before DC began depicting Pamela Isley as more lesbian in her relations with Harley Quinn in later years (though if memory serves, there was an episode of the Batman cartoon in the early 90s that served as an indirect precursor to what's become more common of recent with both villainesses). Honestly, something's not right when a villainess can retain a redheaded status, but not a heroine. Yet that pretty much sums up what went on with the casting and characterization in the 4 mainstream Batman movies of the past 3 decades, and in a way, it precedes more recent examples of redheads replaced with POC, along with original hair color.

I've assumed the reason there wasn't much fuss back in the day over the loss of red hair was because the internet was hardly established at the time, and most purists didn't want to make too much noise over "creative liberties", which are okay in themselves, but not when it gets so out of hand as we see today. And who would've thought it could boomerang back and affect the comics, when you see how almost any character viewed as an easy target gets race/gender/sexual preference swapped? Now, it's a lot more politicized than previous examples, and that's why it's very sad. I'm actually surprised that, when WB produced the live action Aquaman film, they kept red hair and white/caucasian background in place for Mera, but anyone familiar with the news of Amber Heard's defamation of Johnny Depp (she too is actually blonde) could wonder if her casting had something to do with her regrettably terrible personality, which taints the movie at this point.

Certainly, it's a shame redheads are being swapped out in favor of politicized agendas. But if the above are any significant clue, these changes had a predecessor in the 1989-97 Bat-movies, which haven't aged well in the years since.

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Friday, September 24, 2021 

Supergirl TV show wallows in white guilt trips before concluding

The Supergirl TV series may be coming to an end soon, after the 6th season wraps up, but this Newsbusters description of another heavy-handed leftist journey into politicized storytelling is exactly why the TV series' cancellation can't come soon enough:
In the episode of The CW’s Supergirl titled “Blind Spots,” which aired on September 21, the newest superhero, Guardian, realizes it is time to step up and protect victims who "look like" her. Kelly Olsen (Azie Tesfai) is overwhelmed when a low-income housing development suffers from an explosion and collapses to the ground. Many residents suffer injuries and breathing difficulties from the dust and debris, including a young boy she has taken under her wing.

Kelly finds it difficult to get Supergirl and the others interested in her fight on behalf of the residents as they are hospitalized. The white city councilwoman who represents the housing project is also injured at the scene but she is able to use extortion to obtain a very expensive experimental drug to heal quickly. She threatens to pull the grants the hospital is in line to receive if she isn’t given the drug. She’s an evil character as she considers the building collapse to be a gift. Now she doesn’t have to be bothered by low-income housing and she can provide high-tech companies with more office space when the area is rebuilt. She is gentrifying the neighborhood.

Kelly confronts her superhero friends and they quickly apologize for their lack of awareness of the plight of black Americans. She tells them that Councilwoman Rankin is the problem.
How peculiar the Girl of Steel is depicted as all but worried in this story, and initially not helping out. Incredibly dumb, but not unexpected given the alarming level of leftism this TV show's been notorious for. It's shameful how Al Plastino and Otto Binder's Silver Age creation has been exploited as a propaganda vehicle for stuff this blatant, and definitely shameful how DC/WB allow it. The live action show won't be missed once it's off the airwaves.

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Thursday, September 23, 2021 

Netflix adaptation of Grendel makes a big deal out of hiring a Muslim to play the star

The far-left CNN's written a fluff-coated report on a new TV show produced at the politically correct Netflix network based on Matt Wagner's Grendel series, which originally began in the early 1980s, and is practically being promoted based on the religious background of its lead actor:
Abubakr Ali was 10 years old when two hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.

The terrorist attacks took place a year after Ali moved to the United States from Egypt, and they changed his life forever. From that day forward, the child in Ali became stifled, he says, aching under the weight of blame Muslim communities were forced to endure.

Acting became his only escape, he says, a passion he discovered unexpectedly in high school after taking a required drama class.

Now Ali is making Hollywood history as the first Arab Muslim male actor to portray a series lead in a comic book adaptation, Netflix has confirmed to CNN.

The 30-year-old actor will be featured in the upcoming series "Grendel" as a vigilante hero who goes by the same name. Grendel is the masked identity of Hunter Rose, a fencer, writer and assassin "seeking to avenge the death of a lost love," Netflix said in a press release.

For Ali, the role is a welcome challenge -- and the chance he doubted he would ever get.

"I'm so excited about this opportunity. There is so much possibilities with this. There are so many emotional, physical and psychological extremes that are going into the show, and it requires all of me in a really beautiful way," he told CNN. "I always thought I wouldn't be able to play anything outside the trope line that anyone who is Muslim or Arab can only play roles where they are either the good Muslim who assimilates into the Western world and proves they're one of the good ones, or the terrorist," he said. "There hasn't been room for roles like the complex anti-hero that is so complicated and flawed but also beautiful in their own way. And this role is the perfect opportunity for that."
The problem here is that the actor is making such a big deal out of being hired despite his religious background, and the network is going out of their way to whitewash it. Worst is the victimology angle they resorted to, without any consideration for how 9-11 Families and survivors of the attack could feel. And Wagner himself doesn't seem particularly troubled:
In the "Grendel" comic books, created by Matt Wagner and published by Dark Horse Comics, Rose takes on the identity of Grendel as he battles New York's criminal underworld.

"I couldn't be more thrilled about the Grendel saga, one of the longest-running independent comics series, finally being translated into live-action for the screen," Wagner said in a statement. "I'm especially excited to see Abubakr Ali bring the character of Grendel/Hunter Rose to life -- he has the charisma, style and vital edginess that I've been envisioning in the role for years."
That's still no excuse for his belief system, which neither the actor nor anybody else here seems to find reprehensible. Point: there may be moderate Muslims, but there's no moderate Islam. And since this is Netflix producing the show, that's a leading reason why it's better to avoid the new TV show regardless, seeing how PC much of their output's turned out to be.

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Disney changes Jessica Rabbit's dress to a woke one

Breitbart says Robert Zemeckis' famous blend of animation with live action movie from 1988, one which may never get a sequel with the way things are now going at Disney corporation, has been dealt a new blow in a park ride based on Roger Rabbit:
Disney has revamped its Jessica Rabbit scene at Disneyland’s “Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin” ride, dumping the cartoon’s classic sexy, scantly clad character.

The revamped — or perhaps devamped — character will no longer be as suggestively dressed as the famed animated sex symbol in the classic 1988 film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And instead of being in constant peril, Disney says the new Jessica Rabbit will be more empowered and “more relevant” to today’s age, according to Yahoo News.

In the ride, which originally debuted in 1993, Jessica Rabbit was kidnapped by the evil Toon Patrol Weasels. And in one segment of the ride, she was seen tied up in a car trunk. But recently, Disney nixed the scene and replaced Jessica Rabbit with barrels of acid.

Jessica Rabbit now appears dressed in a trench coat and fedora instead of her brilliant ruby-red, low-cut dress
. And according to reports, a new sign was placed in the ride to inform visitors of Jessica Rabbit’s new role.
So she can't be a detective while wearing her strapless dress? Basically, that's what they're saying when they ditch it for the would-be detective gear, which pales by comparison. It's one thing to depict her less as a damsel in distress. But why they seem to think the bustier-style dress inherently symbolizes distress is mystifying. Yet it does decidedly make clear what they really think of Wonder Woman's bustier if this is how they approach the image of Jessica. It all reminds me of a recent irony reported by Hello magazine, about Brie Larson, the star of Capt. Marvel, produced by what's long become an affiliate of Disney studios, who's done some photography where she can be seen wearing a bare-midriff exercise outfit while doing fitness workouts. Now why is it okay to do fashion-model pictures like those, and attend gala conventions wearing fancy dresses, but not wear anything remotely similar in the movie? And why are they allowing this mindset to affect even an animated character? All this does is point out their increasing hypocrisy when it comes to sex and symbols, and why you should save your money and not visit Disneyland anymore.

And if no sequel to Zemeckis' classic film is planned, that only makes clear what a sad joke this is turning out to be.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021 

A comic about fighting electronic cigarette use

An article in the Times-Tribune of Kentucky discussing a scientific comic the University of KT is producing in cooperation with a UK science institute for fighting the use of electronic cigarettes.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021 

Tony Akins specialized in blood and gore when he was working on Wonder Woman during New 52

Here's another interview from Multiversity with an artist who'd worked at DC during their farcical, pointless New 52 charade, and what Tony Akins has to say isn't particularly impressive:
How did you come about being the guy who was going to be alternating with Cliff Chiang on “Wonder Woman?”

Tony Akins: Well, I think it starts with Brian Azzarrello and Cliff and whatever was going on at editorial at the time when they landed this gig. Brian, and I had worked together, we were friends and so I, I think that Brian had nailed down the tone of the story and wanted a strong horror aspect. And he knew that was like right up my alley. Brian and I had done some work in the early 90s that had sort of had really crazy monsters and manga influence on the page that he really enjoyed. And I think he enjoyed it because he just needed to write a couple of sentences, I ran with it. But I think he wanted the same insanity in “Wonder Woman” too.

But you know what that means? He had to like, really strain to keep editorial out of the mix. And he’s told me and I’ve heard that he acquired this nickname, ‘the Curtain of Scorn.’ So I guess anytime editorial folks are wanting to know what direction the story was going in, they got that look from Brian. You know, just back off. So yeah, I think I was brought in, because Brian and I had a working release relationship prior. I think Brian really wanted something sinister in a settling to, to lace through the stories.
That's the problem with much modern storytelling. Too much reliance on dark themes, including - but not limited to - horror. It's simply atrocious. And here's another eyebrow raiser:
I have not really read the full run in a while, but in anticipation of talking to you today, I was just kind of scrolling through some of the issues that you worked on in the book, and I was really taken by how especially there’s, there’s one or two issues that you draw, that Diana barely appears in it. Those stories are much more about the other gods. And I was wondering if, if that was sort of by design, if it was if it was decided upon, at some point, that you would be leaned on for the stories that were more about Ares and the other gods that were showing up, and that Cliff would be doing more of the Diana stuff? Or if that’s just kind of happenstance from which scripts you went up getting?

TA: I would say it was by design, that I handled Diana less, because I you know, I’m not a superhero guy. In looking back on those issues. my one take on it is, you know, if were to change something, it would be how I approached her, because I just, you know, again, not being a superhero guy, I felt that I didn’t do justice to her. And in fact, when I turned my issue in, which was on time, I got pushback from editorial on how I drew her and I had the time to address some of those. And I you know, maybe because of Brian’s ‘Curtain of Scorn’ stance on protecting the title, editorial may have come to a compromise rather than having me replaced. They would just have me draw around, Diana, and I’m sure Brian didn’t have a problem with that. And in fact, I was asked to sort of approach Cliff’s style just to, you know, keep the whole flavor on the page. But yeah, it’s Cliff’s book. So you know, that was the line I felt that I needed to toe.

So I think that they probably did come to the decision where, you know, political, financial, you know, the Diana centric stories. You know, handle all the big daddies, it seems really confident that I would handle anything that was especially bloody or gory. Fantastic. I’m always happy with my monsters, my designs and that, from Hades to you know, the other things that landed on the page that were, you know, just fantastic.
Even for an artist, that's got to be a serious weakness if they're not into superheroes despite the assignment, making this more a case of doing it more for money than glory. And that Akins would specialize in gore is decidedly something to disapprove of. Especially after reading this:
Do you remember what they had issue with with your Diana?

TA: She wasn’t pretty enough. I know, Cliff got some pushback, too, but that would fit into the way he did handle her, which fell within his stylistic range. And so it it, it melded with the rest of the art that he was dropping, but for me, it was a real struggle. You know, again, I’m culturally, editorially, I’m not that type of artist, I tend to be more naturalistic. Or, you know, just flat out, you know, sensationalistic with, you know, really broad, cartoony actions. So it was hard for me to walk away with that. So, I think the one is a sequence, at the Tower Bridge, where she is confronting these assassins, the centers who are the woman she’s protecting and all of that is great. I mean, I enjoyed all of that and did the best I could on Diana, and I guess they were happy with that.

But the one place they did check me was just the amount of gore that I had on the other page. And which, which is unfortunate because you know, they could have broken some sensitive viewer threshold, so it’s fun.
If the editors really did draw the line on some of the gore, of course that's pretty surprising, considering how such elements turned up increasingly in the past 30 years, all for cheap sensationalism, an approach he suggests is acceptable. Equally surprising for the time, if not today, is if they thought Akins' character design for WW wasn't attractive enough, because in the decade since, things have changed quite a bit for the sake of wokeness, and art merit's become less of a concern.
One of the things that I love about that run is how you and Cliff work in concert. I don’t think you’re very much like Cliff in your art style, but you two managed to work together so well that it didn’t feel jarring as you’re reading the book. And part of that I’m sure is the coloring and all that but it felt like a really good mixture of styles. But I also feel like your issues always had this really dark undercurrent and part of that is because of the characters you were drawing. But also as your work, like you said, leans towards horror. So when you were told or asked or whatever to try to sort of match Cliff’s style, what were you doing to your work to allow that match to happen? How did you adjust your work?

TA: I adjusted it through line quality; I tend to work the finer line. I guess I bought flatter [approach to] coloring that would be more of a sort of flat, animation type of color. So those are the two things that I kept in mind. Cliff is much more sophisticated than I am, design wise. And because I say that because he works he gets more work done with less than. I’ve been on jobs before, and I worked in a studio as a young artist, where we have to basically mimic the lead artists style so you know developed a critical eye.

Plus I just admired Cliff’s work, so I was easy, well not easy, but I was heated up to understand where I needed to push my work, curtailed by [his] style.

Did it come from you or Azzarrello to make him the inspiration for Ares?

TA: Brian said “Ares is me, but just imagine he’s covered in blood.” You know from His hands to his elbows in, you know, his pant legs also so it’s like he’s, he’s been messing around just bats of blood walking around the streets. Okay, that’s pretty easy. Brian is pretty easy to capture in a drawing.
And that's another something known as cheap sensationalism and shock value. More troubling, however, is the following near the end:
Now, you were on the book on an off until issue 19. Do you remember why you stepped away from the book?

TA: I was burnt out. I had just moved from Chicago to Seattle. It was a big move. In fact, the news that Brian was on the book came to me while I was scouting out a place to live in Seattle. I was crossing the street with my my partner. She was late, and we were looking for apartments. We’re on Capitol Hill. And I got a call and so it’s crossing some road. I saw there’s Brian and I picked it up. “Hey, what’s up?” It’s like, “what do you think of ‘Wonder Woman’” and like,” I don’t, why?” He’s like, “well, I’ve got the book. And we’re gonna play, you know, we’re gonna do what we want with all the toys. And then we got to put it back for, you know, X number of issues. So I’ll email you what I’m thinking.”

And that’s kind of like the news. And I said, Yes. I said, Yes, right there on the spot, because again, I worked with Brian. And I knew Brian and I thought about hooking up with him again. But that was a Sunday that he called me because I remember I was preparing the next day to go down to Dark Horse, because I’d been dancing with Scott Allie about the next Buffy season, because he wanted me on it. We were going through the back and forth with the talent representation of, you know, the actors because they think they have to look a certain way on the page.

And so it just got to the point where you know, I’m going to find a place to live, and then the following Monday, take up, take a train down to Portland, walk into Dark Horse’s offices, sit down with Scott and just like, get this done. Then Brian called me, and that was it. I called Scott the next day and said, “Hey, listen, I was going to come down there and just sit in the office and get this done.” Scott was like, “well, that wouldn’t have been a good idea.” But, you know, that’s that that was my plan, you know, because I wanted, you know, I needed to win the next gig.

So yeah, Brian, calls me and I just say yes, right here on the street. And that was it for Dark Horse. I did talk to Scott the next day and, in fact, I was torn about it, because “Buffy” was still not clearly in my hands and “Wonder Woman” was, you know, clearly offered. Scott says, “Well, what do you want more?” And based on, you know, ‘the bird in the hand?’ I said, “Wonder Woman.”
What's this here? He's discussing the disgraced ex-Dark Horse editor as though nothing happened?!? This is even more embarrassing. Certainly if he doesn't acknowledge Allie did wrong, and say he's glad the man's gone from the industry now.

In any event, Akins sounds to me like one of many poor choices and fits for the superhero genre, and should never have been hired for working on WW, yet this has become common practice among the mainstream today, to assign all the people whose experience and understanding of the material is dreadful.

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